The following days were the worst. The guards would wake them early in the morning when the sun was not even up yet. They were fed a watery slob that seemed to be just enough to keep them from starvation.
Their tasks could be summarized in three categories. Wood, Stone, or Construction. The task could change depending on the guards or the overseer ’s mood.
Wood meant that they were sent into the forest to cut lumber and carry it back to the camp. No matter how much the cut, it would have almost regrown the next day. Only the sinister enchantments surrounding the camp stopped the green hell from swallowing everything.
Wood was the most dangerous, as the guard would not protect the workers from the beasts that could snatch up and kill a person in seconds. Losing some workforce was not an issue as long as they didn ’t manage to run.
It took Seth a lot of control not to end the charade then and there. He wasn ’t the most empathetic person but even he had rage burning in his chest when he saw the guard laughing at a working being ripped apart by a pack of humongous spiders.
Stone was the most intense work. They would be led along a stone road to a quarry. Stone was cut into bricks, and they needed to deliver them to the construction sites. The guard here loved to make use of their whips.
Neither the old, the young, or the weak were spared and forced to fulfill a daily quota. As mentioned already, they didn ’t care to lose workers as long as they died of fatigue and didn ’t escape.
Construction was a little less intense but could lead to harder punishments. They were using wood and stone to build whatever project the Theocracy was working on. The most prominent was a wide and long road right through the lush forest.
Here Seth also finally saw some of the warriors and magicians. The latter would fasten the ground and enchant the bricks of the road. They also seemed to be responsible for the enchantment that kept the fast-growing forest at bay.
The warriors simply stood there along the road and killed any beast that came too close. It was a pristine, white stone street in the middle of giant green vegetation and lined by an honor guard of warriors.
It would have been almost beautiful, majestic even if it wasn ’t smeared with the blood of slaves. Any mistakes that delayed the construction or damaged an already finished party could be punished with 50 whip strikes or death.
It was a most ancient way of treating people that forced out every bit of energy a person had, only to throw away the dry husk once they were empty.
Seth couldn ’t just leave. Even if he argued with himself, that he could use the home call to return to Delta and get help from the system church or the Chrona empire. He had no idea where this place was.
It would take ages just getting to Alpha from Delta. And then they would have to make their way through the jungle to here? Seth doubted any of the workers could survive that long.
But what could he do? He was sure that he could use his class skills even with the collar and that he could use them to remove the collars.
Without the collar, he could bring out the token and summon Al ’Salzar. The sorceress was unimaginably powerful, but even she herself was not sure how well she could fight those angels.
There was also Puffles. Seth had no idea about the changes the Ivicer went through, but it had been powerful before, it couldn ’t have become weaker. Although he couldn ’t communicate with it at the moment, he was sure he could summon the caterpillar if things were dire.
These were his options as a single person.
In his days as a slave, he got closer with the others in his barracks. Mostly thanks to Evan who had a talent for befriending people.
The young Beastmaster had been turned into a worker because his skill relied on the system ’s beast space and the Church of Chains did not allow such options to be used.
The others were either crafters or judged as too weak to be useful as warriors or magicians.
They wouldn ’t be a big help in a fight, except for Evan.
As Seth tried to think of a way how to break the whole Bridgehead an officer entered their barracks.
”3663! ” he barked.
”Yes! Sir! ” Seth jumped up in surprise and answered.
”Is it true you are a talented blacksmith? ”
Seth ’s eyes bulged. How the hell did they find out? Who shot him in the knee?
”Good. You are hereby relocated to the inner garrison. Follow me. ”
He was too shocked to really react and simply followed the officer who brought him back into the castle. The suppression effect of the castle ’s barrier could be felt again the moment he entered.
The officer led him through dark and winding hallways deep into the belly of the castle. Finally, the man stood in front of a door and pushed it open.
Inside was a smithy and a priestess was waiting inside. As he stepped inside he felt that the suppression effect had vanished again.
”Ask him. ” the officer ordered. The slightly older priestess stepped before him, cupped his face in her hands, and looked him in the eyes. Now Seth noticed the chains on her wrists.
”You are a blacksmith, correct? ”
”What is the level of your skill? ”
”Journeyman lv. 8 ”
”What is the highest rating your items ever achieved? ”
”E- Relic ” he had actually felt a slightly painful stab in his mind when he tried to lie.
”Okay, this should suffice, ask him the last question and then take off the collar. ” the officer grunted.
”Do you have any combat skills? ”
”Weapon Mastery ”
The officer on the side snorted as if calling
”Now for the last test. Many of the warriors praised the repair skills you have allegedly shown during the event in Delta. Repair this. If you can satisfy me, you will stay in this room and produce weapons for our troops. If you can ’t… you won ’t need a place to stay anymore. ”
The man put the two parts of a broken sword onto the workbench. It once was a bright silver longsword and it was made of something Seth saw for the first time,
”Do it! ”
”Y-Yes, Sir. ”
Seth took a look around the smithy he was provided with. A forge, a tool rack, several workbenches, an anvil, a bed. It was like a prisoner cell/smithy. The room was neither small nor big.
~ Seth! I can finally contact you again! What happened? ~ Puffles relieved voice echoed in his mind, but he couldn ’t deal with that now.
This was an important situation. He could deal with these two now and flee easily but it meant leaving everyone behind. It was too sudden to make any good plans.
The other option was to do what they wanted and gain a place within the castle. It was a much better situation to come up with a plan to take down the whole place.
Seth got to work. He readied the smithy and chose some tools. The only difference to how he normally did things was that he used no other skill than the basic blacksmithing skills anyone of his level would possess.
An hour later he was meticulously grinding and sharpening the re-joined blade until the spot where it was repaired became invisible.
”Truly someone close to the level of a craftsman. ” the priestess complimented.
The officer took the sword from Seth ’s hands and grunted in agreement.
”Well done. From now on you are not to leave this room. You will be given food, materials, and a daily quota. ”
”Yes, sir! ” Seth answered. The officer and the priestess finally left.
~Look like you have a new job. ~
~ Just what happened in the last few days?! The great me demands an explanation! ~
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